More women venture into tobacco farming

There is a 57 percent increase in the number of women who sold tobacco this marketing season, as compared to the 2016 tobacco marketing season.

At least 11 000 women sold their tobacco this season compared to 7 000 last season. Ephiphania Chigora (25) a female tobacco grower from Zvimba in Mashonaland West Province said she ventured into tobacco production after she saw how lucrative it had been for her late father in-law.

“My father in-law was a hard working tobacco grower,” she said. “He inspired me to start growing the crop. I started small and stayed on course. Keeping on track requires a lot of resilience.

“I started off with half a hectare since it was an experiment. Like many experimentations, it did not come out as we would have wanted, nonetheless we drew important lessons from the experience.” With an appetite for growth, Chigora used her experience in the previous season to improve her farming.

“I tried a hectare. We were encouraged by the prices we attained at the selling floors. “This is my fifth season and I am proud to say I have managed to buy a Massey Ferguson MF 390 tractor and a car from tobacco production.

“The tractor has become another source of income as it gets hired by neighbours who do not have enough equipment for ploughing,” she added. Chigora said tobacco farming was profitable.

“I have never been formally employed and farming has contributed immensely to the well-being of my family,” she said. “I have also invested proceeds from tobacco sells in livestock production.

“This season I planted two hectares of tobacco and I am expecting about 9 500 kilogrammes of good quality tobacco. Chigora expressed concerns over climate change.

“This season we experienced heavy rains which ended up compromising on the quantity of our crop whilst last season the rains delayed. This means that heavy rains and drought are largely affecting our production,” she said.

To avert the challenges associated with poor rainfall, Chigora installed an irrigation kit to help sustain the tobacco production project. “I am less and less relying on the rains and am increasing on the irrigated crop.

“Another challenge I am seized with is we usually buy coal from Harare, which is quite far. I wish the coal supplies were readily available in small towns and at growth points,” she added.

In 2016, 27 percent of registered tobacco farmers were females. Chigora urged other women to take the leap of faith and try their hand in tobacco production as they can always bank on calendar based TIMB workshops conducted in conjunction with AGRITEX for good agronomic practices, as well as TRB trainings held at Kutsaga Research Station.

She said the knowledge has immensely contributed to her good returns and has led to her personal growth as a farmer. After 45 days of the 2017 tobacco marketing season, farmers had benefited $370 million dollars after the sale of 130 million kgs.

The average price on the auction is $2.87 per kg, two cents higher than the contract sales average price. Bale rejection is also three percent lower than the same period last season.

For additional information contact TIMB on telephone numbers 08677004624 /6 or 0772145166 /9 or 0279-22082 /21982 or 025-3439 or 067-24268 /29246 or 0277-2700 or 064-7280 or 0271-6772 or Toll Free Numbers 08006003 / 0731999999 / 0712832804 or WhatsApp 0731999999 or E-mail: [email protected]

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